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Resolving conflicts

The Gaza conflict has currently divided the international community. I believe that human society has witnessed – and continues to face – horrific conflicts over various issues.

Historically, the use of brutal force did not only lead to poverty, hunger, crimes and diseases in war-torn societies, but aggressive forces also had to bear heavy military expenditures due to constant threats of counterattacks.

Centuries ago, ancient philosopher Kautilya Chanakya, who lived in the historical region called Taxila in present-day Pakistan, highlighted the importance of ceasefire and expressed his views to transform the planet into a cradle of peace.

At that time, it was believed that the use of force was the only option to end conflicts. Generally when a powerful state wins a war, it either annexes the conquered territory or installs a ruler of its choice. However, according to Chanakya, if opponents are controlled by force, what will be the guarantee that successors of the opponents will also remain under control? According to him, the unnecessary use of brutal force is the root cause of hatred, misunderstandings and tussle in any region.

Chanakya was well aware that differences of opinions is a natural course in society, but when differences remain unresolved for a long time, bloodshed and horrific wars occur. Chanakya, therefore, emphasized the need to avoid war as much as possible and recommended military action only as a last option to curb the rioting elements. The strategy he recommended to resolve the conflicts is known as ‘Sama Dana Bheda Dandopaya’.

According to Chanakya, the first and most important approach to bring any conflict to its logical conclusion is ‘Sama’, which translates to conciliation and to initiate dialogue with the other side. Most conflicts are based on misunderstandings and communication gaps. When someone starts negotiations with arguments, they win a moral victory at the first stage. However, getting rid of ego is a prerequisite to sit at the dialogue table.

If the ‘Sama’ policy does not work, try ‘Dana’. In Sanskrit, the word means giving gifts, cash, and favours, etc. To entice the other party or redress the loss, monetary support helps resolve many issues. In ancient times, many rulers used to get married with family relatives of opposing rulers to maintain peace between both states.

If this tactic does not work, one should try the principles of ‘Bheda’, which aims to use strategic tactics, including isolating the opponent from the rest of the world. Today, many countries at the global level are increasing their influence by isolating their opponents on the diplomatic front. In the same way, a social boycott of a criminal person in society is another example of this policy.

Chanakya termed the strategy of using force as ‘Danda’, which according to him is the last choice when all efforts for a peaceful resolution fail, and there is no other option left. However, before taking the final decision on going to war, Chanakya advised to exercise patience so that a foolproof line of action can be chalked out, and the advantages and disadvantages of the decision can be evaluated from a strategic point of view.

Chanakya believed that excessive patience shows cowardice or weakness and may compromise interests due to not being able to make the right decisions timely. He advised that military strength should be demonstrated carefully.

These are the principles of warfare presented by Chanakya, which were applied by many wise rulers of India in ancient times. In my view, even today in the modern era, several countries are also following the same in the field of diplomacy.

Today, there is a dire need to establish a ceasefire in the Middle East whereas all parties should be brought to the dialogue table to ensure a peaceful and sustainable solution to the long-standing Palestinian conflict in accordance with UN resolutions.

Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, "Resolving conflicts," The News. 2023-10-27.
Keywords: Political science , Political issues , International community , Diplomacy , Crimes , Kautilya Chanakya , Pakistan